Library raising funds to finance poet laureate’s production

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VILLISCA — The Villisca Public Library has been named  one of five Iowa libraries to have the opportunity to host a professional production of Iowa State Poet Laureate Mary Swander’s “Driving The Body Back” for its community.  

Funds from the Puffin Foundation, a national arts foundation based in New Jersey, will partially fund the project whereby five libraries in communities with populations of 1,500 or less can provide this performance for its patrons. The Puffin Found-ation and the Villisca Public Library is now seeking local sponsorship of up to $600 to complete project costs.

“Driving The Body Back” is the acclaimed poetic narrative about one woman’s discovery of her Irish-Iowan family roots as she drives her mother’s body across Iowa for burial. The performance is given as a one woman show by veteran theater artist Karan Founds-Benton, who takes audiences through the lives and deaths of pioneers, bootleggers, butchers, pranksters, folk healers, romantics and adventurers.  

Touring the mid-west in large cities such as Chicago, Indianapolis and Kansas City, this production has been receiving acclaim from audiences and critics alike.

Five community libraries expressed commitment to presenting the program should funds be granted to supplement their small operating budgets. The Puffin Foundation applauded this commitment by both the libraries and Swanderwoman Productions to bring performances to communities whose size makes it a challenge to provide nationally touring arts productions to their   communities, writing of the project, “Our board was truly impressed with the nature of your proposal and the commitment you have made to fulfill the objectives.”  

The Puffin Foundation Grant program is a very competitive national grant program to provide professional arts opportunities where funding is a challenge.

Iowa Poet Laureate Mary Swander, known nationally as author, essayist and public radio commentator is thrilled the Puffin Foundation has turned its gaze toward Iowa and its small communities.

“It is wonderful to see  small town libraries receive a national nod for what many small town folk already know: these libraries make wonderful centers for all kinds of living arts and culture.”

Interested sponsors, whether individuals or organizations can contact the Villisca Public Library.

For detailed information on “Driving The Body Back” and on the Small Communities Library Tour, please contact Karan Benton, Tour Manager at (515) 708-5169 or karanbenton@Gmail.com.